The minute you see a doctor for a pregnancy-related concern - even if it’s the same doctor you’ve been seeing for months while not pregnant - it will be counted as an antenatal appointment and you will need to have maternity cover on your insurance in order not to suddenly be hit with a big bill. But that's OK, because:
All employers now must provide health insurance with maternity benefit
The Dubai Health Insurance Law (11) of 2013, all parts of which came into effect by the end of June 2016, mandates health insurance coverage for all residents, including dependents, the most basic of which must include maternity coverage.
This means that anyone who is employed – whether by a company as a professional worker, or by a family as a domestic worker –should already have health insurance provided by their employer that includes maternity benefit.
If you do not work, but your husband does, companies will very often cover spouses and dependents as part of the package. It’s very important you check this, as otherwise your husband will need to take out health insurance for you, preferably well in advance of you becoming pregnant, as many policies require that you pay into the policy for at least six months before you can use the maternity benefits.
The different types of maternity benefit
There are several types of benefit included in maternity insurance, the first of which is antenatal , or prenatal, care (the care you get when you are pregnant).
According to the Dubai Health Authority (DHA)’s new law, every medical plan must provide cover for eight prenatal appointments with an ob/gyn, three prenatal scans, and ‘initial investigations’, meaning the basic bloodwork. The maximum co-payment amount (the percentage you have to pay) is set at 10%.
The second type of benefit is for the birth itself. The DHA states there should be coverage of up to Dh7,000 for normal delivery and Dh10,000 for medically necessary C-sections, and the co-payment for this is also 10%. Depending on where you choose to give birth, the costs of childbirth may be more than this basic coverage, in which case you would need to pay 10% of the Dh7,000 if you had a normal delivery for instance, and then the full amount of any costs on top of that.
It’s worth checking all of the different prices with the hospitals when you are looking at where you want to give birth in order to anticipate any surplus costs that may arise (for example epidurals and other pain relief aren’t included in the most basic covers, and can costs an around an extra Dh3,000. It will also costs Dh5,000 to Dh8,000 more if you choose to bring in your own community doctor from another clinic rather than using the hospital's in-house ones).
The third type of benefit is newborn care. According to the DHA’s minimum, newborns must be covered for at least the 30 days from birth, although premium policies may cover newborns for up to three months after they have been born. This is in the instance of complications arising for the baby following the birth.
Insurance Policy Waiting periods
Although the health insurance law is great news for those of us wanting maternity benefit, the DHA has not set any regulations concerning waiting periods. As a result, many insurers still require a waiting period of at least six months before the policyholder can actually use the maternity coverage, and you can get stung with significantly higher fees if you haven't planned in advance. "If you’re already pregnant when taking out a policy, the insurance company will add a significant loading on to the premium of your policy to include the maternity costs," says Marta Olivotti, senior sales manager at Medstar Insurance Brokers, Pacific Prime Division (www.uae-medical-insurance.com). This could be up to an extra Dh25,000 more, which may mean that it doesn't make financial sense to take out insurance when you are already pregnant.
What if I'm pregnant and don't have insurance?
If you do happen to be pregnant without pre-existing insurance coverage, or before your policy has become valid, there are ways of controlling the costs.
Your own insurance
Despite the possible higher premiums, you can of course investigate taking out your own insurance, and the easiest way to do this is through an insurance-comparison website. Insurance broker Bayzut.com claims that there are several reasonably priced maternity policies available that do not require a waiting period, which you can compare on their site.
If you’re a Dubai resident and not insured, you can apply for a health card that entitles you to low-cost medical treatment at public hospitals and clinics. See www.dha.gov.ae for details on how to apply.
If you don't have maternity insurance cover, or if it is more limited than you want, many hospitals offer antenatal and maternity packages that include the essential scans, tests and medical attention you need for a normal pregnancy and delivery, at more affordable prices than paying per visit. We’ve rounded up a selection of some of the most well-known:
Latifa Maternity and Paediatric Hospital* (www.dha.gov.ae)
Antenatal package Dh17,000
Normal delivery package Dh12,000
Caesarean delivery package Dh20,000
Baby & Child mum Rushda Sami says: “I was advised to deliver at Latifa as I had a high-risk twin pregnancy and Latifa’s NICU is rated as the best in Dubai. I was blown away by the care. I cannot thank the staff at Latifa enough.”
* You need to have a registered government health card to give birth at Latifa
Al Zahra Private Hospital packages (www.azhd.ae)
Antenatal package Dh4,000 to Dh5,600
Normal delivery package Dh10,950 in a standard room
Caesarean delivery package Dh21,450 (one-bed suite)
Baby & Child mum Leslie Darnley says: “I chose Al Zahra because of its openness to natural births and hypnobirthing. I had a drug-free birth, the staff paid attention to our birth plan, and my husband was able to dim the lights, place some candles, and play music.”
Read more: 'What it's like to give birth at... Al Zahra Hospital Dubai'
American Hospital maternity packages (www.ahdubai.com)
Antenatal package Dh5,950
Normal delivery package Dh11,950
Caesarean delivery package Dh22,950
Baby & Child mum Daisy Wilson says: “I delivered all three of my babies in Dubai, and the American Hospital was by far the most positive experience. It was clean and peaceful with skilled midwives and a jolly anaesthetist who put me at ease during the epidural.”
Find out all the paperwork you need to have a baby in the UAE here
Mediclinic City Hospital maternity packages (www.mediclinic.ae/cityhospital)
Antenatal package Dh4,120 - Dh6,300
Normal delivery package Dh13,840
Caesarean delivery package Dh27,135
Baby & Child mum Zoe Cairns says: “Because of a blood condition I needed to deliver at a hospital with an ICU, and City was the only one that would take me at 32 weeks. I’m so glad it did as the facilities were great and I found it to be clean, professional and efficient.”
International Modern Hospital maternity packages (www.imh.ae)
Antenatal package Dh2,000 to dh5,000
Normal delivery package Dh10,000
Caesarean delivery package Dh20,000
Baby & Child mum Mariya Ben says: “As a first-time mum, I had a million questions about pregnancy and giving birth. Thanks to the wonderful team at IMH, both of those things were pure bliss. Hats off to the staff, whose main goal was our safety and happiness.”
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